Bringing a Scandinavian flavor to local holiday celebrations, the Southern CA Damekor performed its fourth annual Glade Jul concert at Pala Mesa Resort in Fallbrook on Dec. 19.
The six members of the ladies chorus entertained an audience of 41 friends, relatives, and guests. Three of the Damekor members live in Murrieta, Darcie and Lorian Dunlop and their daughter Ruth, while Lynne Bradley, Joy Cook and Pat Hensley live in Fallbrook and are members of Daughters of Norway Hulda Garborg Lodge. All have Norwegian or Swedish roots in their family trees.
They presented an ambitious program of 23 songs sung in English, Norwegian or Swedish. Besides those languages, some of the songs were originally written in Sicilian, Icelandic and Danish. The Fireside Room, with a roaring fire and a decorated Christmas tree, was the perfect setting for the concert which started in near darkness with the traditional “Sankta Lucia” procession.
Ruth, 11, wore a wreath of candles (battery operated) while they all carried lit candles into the room to add to the Christmas mood. Ruth has been singing with the Damekor for three years now, since she tried it and “found I was good at it.”
Even though most of us in the audience do not understand Norwegian or Swedish, and the choir sings in “Fallbrook Norwegian” according to Bradley, the printed program gave enough English translations for us to get the message conveyed by the lyrics.
The songs spoke of yuletide customs and Christmas imagery: glowing candles, shining stars, roses and thorns, the way to Paradise, pudding and jolly gnomes. The fifth song, an Icelandic lullaby was dedicated to the families in Newtown, Conn., (who lost loved ones in the mass shooting on Dec. 14), “Sleep my dear one, we shall not be awake on dark nights…..”
Besides singing, five members also played instruments for various songs, Lorian on cello, Bradley on harp, Darcie on guitar, Hensley on piano and Ruth on flute which gave a nice variety of sounds accompanying their voices.
While the tone was serious for the most part, the song “Fruitcake” was performed like a skit with props for laughs. This opened the second half of the program after a brief intermission. I wondered how they were going to fit all of the songs into one hour, but they did, and without rushing or running out of breath.
An ongoing narration of the program, provided in between groups of songs, added information and meaning to the performance. To add to the Christmas spirit, the choir also had Mette Gaal, a native Norwegian who lives in Murrieta, read the Christmas story from the Bible, Luke 2:1-19, in Norwegian with harp and guitar music playing in the background. The Damekor than performed their last song of the evening, “Glade Jul,” which is “Silent Night” in Norwegian. With their singing, the ladies wished all “a peaceful Christmas, full of wonder, hope, love and joy.”
For those people in the audience who grew up with Scandinavian music, the concert was a visit with old familiar carols. For those of us who hadn’t heard these songs before, the concert was an enjoyable introduction to traditional Scandinavian Christmas music.
Any women who would like to join the Damekor, (knowledge of Norwegian or Swedish is not required), can call Bradley at (760) 505-8758 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.